With Council set to vote on adopting the new draft Ivanhoe Structure Plan on Monday 17th December, it's an appropriate time to reflect on progress to date and discuss next steps.
The Process to Date
Our aim has been to provide a voice for residents but at the same time not to be prescriptive about residents' views.
Over the past 17 months Save Ivanhoe Residents Group has worked hard to address all the issues residents have raised with us about the
Activity Centre structure plan. We have brought the community's local knowledge, questions, development concerns, future aspirations and particular local issues to the consultative planning process in the context of State and local planning policy. We have listened, discussed, and informed the community, questioned and debated the issues with Council consistently and constructively.
We have attended meetings, prepared detailed documents, participated in community consultations, attended the Community Consultative Committee meetings and talked with many people in our community.
We have raised the many issues about preserving the highly valued residential amenity and green character of Ivanhoe, particularly within the residential streets of the activity centre, traffic, congestion, housing density, built form design, the environment and sustainability, transport and infrastructure, in an endeavour to ensure appropriate and reasonable development.
We understand that not everyone will agree or be happy with aspects of the draft plan in spite of the scope of changes achieved by the community.
Council has also listened, discussed, prepared documents, facilitated meetings, communicated more widely and talked with many individuals in the community. The consultative process has been significantly improved since the first draft plan was rejected late 2011.
Adopting the new structure plan
Change is inevitable, and planning for change is sensible, particularly in relation to identifying areas where higher density development may be most appropriate.
This is a challenging task in Ivanhoe. As a designated Activity Area it is a solidly residential suburb and state government policy directs that higher density areas are those within walking distance to shops and transport. Ivanhoe doesn't have former industrial zones like Brunswick or Northcote that can be converted to higher density living. For the Ivanhoe community, it is imperative that residential streets are protected from over-development.
The new plan is significantly more considered and detailed than the original plan rejected by the community in 2011. In general, preferred building heights are lower and the set-backs, site coverage and landscaping guidelines provide more protection to amenity. The new guidelines are detailed in the residential areas where preferred heights are to be kept the same as current ResCode guidelines. These improved and more detailed guidelines are in part due to community feedback and MGS Architects who have done a street by street analysis of the activity centre zone.
To date we have neither endorsed or rejected the draft plan, as this is your call as residents of Ivanhoe. We understand there is no single view in the community of what is considered 'appropriate'.
While aspects of the plan will be controversial, Council has made a real attempt to engage the community in the last 12 months. We believe Council will adopt the new structure plan at Monday's meeting. After the progress in the last year it is time to move to the next stage - implementation.
Interim Planning Controls
The process of course still has time to run. Council must formalise documentation to amend the planning scheme and this then needs to be approved by the State Planning Minister, Matthew Guy. We understand this approval process could take another 12 months. In the meantime Council has committed to applying for interim planning controls. These interim controls enable the structure plan guidelines to be utilised for planning decisions while the formal process to amend the planning scheme is underway.
We have requested Council start that process as soon as possible so new planning applications, such as the application in the Lower Heidelberg Rd precinct, can be assessed based on the guidelines in the structure plan. This development application falls outside the guidelines the community and Council have spent so much time and effort in formulating the structure plan.
It is critical that Council prepare its submission for the proposed planning scheme amendments and apply for interim planning controls to prevent this situation occurring again as soon as practical.
The Community Role
How to continue to be involved:
- Attend the Council meeting on Monday night 7.30pm when Council will decide whether it will formally adopt the new structure plan
- Keep informed about the planning scheme amendment process identifying any further involvement you as an individual may want to take as the opportunity arises
- Keep talking to your neighbours about future development in Ivanhoe and in your local area in particular
- Talk to your Councillors and Council about the issues that concern you including attending Council meetings and asking questions at question time
- Check the Save Ivanhoe website for updates on the process